It’s been almost 3 months since the beautiful freckle faced Copper joined my family. I will admit, having 2 horses has been a challenge, making sure Copper feels loved and welcomed while making sure to pay equal attention to Alfie, all while keeping my sanity lol. It didn’t help that during this time Alfie had more lameness issues that required 3 vet visits to figure out, so doing anything with him wasn’t an option, grooming wasn’t even pleasurable for him. Now that Alfie is feeling much better, we are back to grooming, taking walks and having fun together in the arena. Alfie also seems to have turned the corner and has accepted Copper as his brother.
When Alfie and I first became a team over 5 years ago, we didn’t have an easy time together. I was new to horses and had no idea what I was doing and I was learning how to ride. Alfie took full advantage of my non-experience. I can remember a time riding him, and it took me 45 minutes to get him to walk 5 steps. Not 5 feet, but five steps forward. 😳 Alfie loved and trusted me but it took a lot of work to get him to respect me in the saddle. In fact, it took 4 years. 4 years of hard work, 4 years of struggles, 4 years of wonderful moments, but also 4 years of tears. Just when he and I got into our groove, Alfie had to be retired from riding – something that still makes me sad today. Why am I bringing this up you ask? Well…history is repeating itself with Copper.
When Copper and I became a team, all was going great. I had done several solo rides with him, with very little issues. We were figuring each other out and it was exciting. Fast forward to now, Copper is doing beautifully with the kids who are taking lessons with him, but with me – he’s giving me a hard time. It’s like he’s been getting together with Alfie at night to discuss ways to “scare” mom – to get out of work. 😂 Alfie used to dramatically toss his head complete with spit flying out of his mouth and Copper’s tactic – he stops walking forward and will just flip it in reverse and walk backwards. What Copper doesn’t know fully yet, is I’m not the same “scared” rider I was in the past. I’m much more confident and I have a box of tools I can dig into to help unstick him and get him passed his impressive backing up skills.
This weekend I had my lesson with him on Saturday and to say he was a challenge is putting it mildly. He pulled everything out of his bag of tricks and I didn’t get frustrated, I stayed calm, and just persisted until he finally sucked in his pride and listened to me. Today, I had a solo ride with him. Our first solo ride in a few months. We started out pretty good, but then the backward antics started. I didn’t get flustered, I negotiated with him. And I won the negotiations.
We have a horse show in a few weeks at our barn. It will be the first time I will be competing in 2 Dressage classes. Even though Copper has an impressive show record, he has never done Dressage, so this is going to be a first for him also. I am excited to do these classes with Copper. I am excited to see how he and I progress in the next few weeks with our relationship.
As I’ve been reminding myself a lot lately, riding isn’t easy, if it was everyone would be doing it. Horses aren’t robots, they have emotions, feelings and aches and pains just like we do. If you are having a bad day, chances are, your horse is going to sense that and your ride is going to be a reflection of what your emotional state is – which means it’s not going to be a great ride. And why should it, if the rider isn’t present and focused why should your horse be present and focused. Copper is nicely reminding me of this.
The honeymoon may be over, but I am very determined to show Copper that I am a great partner that he can count on whenever he needs. I’m in no rush for Copper to figure this out, I’m in this for the journey.❤️🐴